It has been a good 10 years since I last stepped upon the black sandy beaches of Santorini. The sunsets in Ohia really took my breath away, as did driving up there on the windy, windy narrow roads. The beautiful waters and equally beautiful people in Greece have really stayed with me – I hope to return again there in the near future. I remember raiding off the road bakeries, crunching down on crispy spanakopitas, sipping on Rakomelo in Paros as the fishermen brought in their catch of the day and feasting on sun dried octopus while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean sea… Sounds like a dream? Well, yes it was and I had Alex, my partner in crime at the time by my side.
Staring off into space, I forgot for a second that I am inside, sitting on the couch next to my ever so adorable nephew and the rain is pouring down in a constant stream outside.
Why does it always rain here??
So I have learnt to adapt many a recipe cooking for kids in the last few months, cooking in bulk and cooking more economically. So here it is, not quite a spanakopita, more like a silverbeet pie… but loosely, ever much so on my memories of the sun kissed Mediterranean.
Silverbeet, by the kilogram is so much better price wise than buying a kilogram of baby leaf spinach. In doing this, you can allow yourself to splurge a little bit more on good crumbly Greek feta as opposed to a less lip smacking Danish feta.
Silverbeet is also known as swiss chard and is from the same family the beetroot comes from, mainly cultivated for its roots. The silverbeet has abundantly thick green leaves and white stalks. Me, being me, hates to throw any kind of food away so I love that you can use the whole damn leaf and stalk in the recipe. As long as you cut up the stem finely and lightly fry it ti take out the bitterness before popping it into a pie.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
200g good quality Greek feta
200g fresh ricotta
250g cottage cheese
1kg spinach, most of the stem removed and finely hopped
large red onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
2 medium eggs
200g filo pastry
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
20g melted butter
Thoroughly wash the leaves of the silverbeet, immersing it in water at least 3 times and completely dry – there’s nothing worse than finding even just a speck of grit in your food!
Now, finely chop the silverbeet.
Turn on the oven. Fan forced at about 160’C and take out the filo pastry. Keep the pastry wrapped but allow it to come to room temperature
In a large fry pan, throw in a good knob of butter and fry onions until transluscent, add first the stalks of the silverbeet until they have softened and lastly the leaves.
In a large bowl while the silverbeet is cooking, crack the eggs crumble all the cheeses and throw in some salt and pepper.
Mix and mush all these ingredients up in the bowl with a spoon, or, as I like to do with my hands (it would be nice if you washed them first.)
Sprinkle paprika and nutmeg in the cheese mixture and mix through.
Now the silverbeet onion mix needs to be added to the cheesy stuff. Make sure you just slightly heat the leaves of the silverbeet as it will cook further in the oven. It is also nice to preserve the lovely green colour of the leaves. Allow to cool slightly.
So after this is all done, grab an oven proof rectangular dish. (I used one 33cm x 5cm x 20cm). Use the melted butter and brush the dish. Line the dish (as rustically as you like) with layers of the filo pastry, let it hang over the sides of the dish quite a bit and these will be tucked in later.
Pour the spinach mixture into the lined dish and flatten out. Spread a few layers of pastry on the top, brush with butter and fold over the hanging edges of pastry. Brush all exposed pastry with butter so it doesn’t cook naked. It will enable a nice crispy pastry.
Bake in the oven from 25-30 minutes. Cut in large slabs and serve with a crispy green salad.